top of page

A peek into the latest policing research from the SEBP - issue 8

Space constraints mean we could only provide the briefest summaries of some interesting and important research in the eighth issue of the SEBP newsletter. These do not do the studies justice, but have hopefully piqued your curiosity enough to bring you here.

Police practitioner views on the challenges of analysing and responding to knife crime by Karen Bullock, Iain Agar, Matt Ashby, Iain Brennan, Gavin Hales, Aiden Sidebottom and Nick Tilley

Knife crime remains a major concern in England and Wales. Problem-oriented and public health approaches to tackling knife crime have been widely advocated, but little is known about how these approaches are understood and implemented by police practitioners. To address this knowledge gap, this study, published in Crime Science, draws on semi-structured interviews and focus groups with 44 police personnel to consider the processes and challenges of applying problem-oriented and public health approaches to knife crime. Findings show that knife crime was seen as a complex social problem which would not be solved by ‘silver bullets’; prevention was prioritised and there was an emphasis on understanding and responding to vulnerability and risk. There was some discussion of ‘holistic’ and ‘whole systems’ approaches (but these concepts were rarely defined) and the problem of serious violence was viewed as a shared, multi-agency issue that the police could not tackle alone. Various challenges were also evident, most notably around analysis of the drivers and patterns of knife crime and the evaluation of knife crime interventions. The article concludes by discussing the implications of the findings for knife crime prevention and the implementation and advancement of problem-oriented and public health approaches to policing.

Virtual Reality Training For Police Officers: A Comparison of Training Responses in VR and Real-Life Training by Lisanne Kleygrewe, R. Vana Hutter, Matthijs Koedijk and Raôul Oudejans In policing, Virtual Reality (VR) scenario-based training is being explored to complement real-life scenario-based training. This study, published in Police Practice and Research investigated whether relevant training responses in VR training, namely heart rate, level of physical activity, mental effort, and perceived stress, resemble those in real life scenario-based training. Researchers investigated the training responses of 237 police officers of the Dutch National Police. They found that the maximum heart rate and average level of physical activity were significantly higher in real life scenarios, whereas invested mental effort was significantly higher in VR scenarios. No significant differences were found in average HR and perceived stress. Researchers concluded VR scenario training can elicit perceived stress, mental effort, and average heart rate that resemble or exceed responses in real life training, providing a promising tool to complement police training.

The Impact of Implicit Bias-Oriented Diversity Training on Police Officers' Beliefs, Motivations, and Actions by Calvin Lai and Jaclyn Lisnek U.S. police departments have attempted to address racial inequities in policing with diversity training. However, little research has been done to evaluate whether this training is effective at changing officers' beliefs, motivations, and actions. This study tested a day-long implicit-bias-oriented diversity training designed to increase U.S. police officers' knowledge of biases, concerns about bias, and use of evidence-based strategies to mitigate bias. The training was immediately effective at increasing knowledge about bias, concerns about bias, and intentions to address bias, relative to baseline. However, although the training was linked to higher knowledge for at least one month, the effects were fleeting. These findings, published in Psychological science, suggest that diversity training as it is currently practiced is unlikely to change police behaviour, and more needs to be done in order to produce lasting change.

Mindfulness training for law enforcement to reduce occupational impact: A systematic review and meta-analysis by Ashley Withrow, Katie Russell, and Braveheart Gillani Law enforcement officers are frequently subjected to highly stressful and traumatic situations with increased negative physical and mental health outcomes. Mindfulness is proposed as a means of improving self-reported physical or mental health outcomes, including depression, anxiety, burnout, and sleep disturbances. This meta-analysis, published in The Police Journal, suggests mindfulness-based interventions will likely have a small to moderate effect in decreasing symptoms of depression and will also potentially result in slight reductions in symptoms of anxiety and burnout. Particularly successful interventions in studies covered in the analysis incorporated a curriculum rooted in evidence-based mindfulness practices and adapted specifically for law enforcement officers that incorporate practice time outside of the sessions.


bottom of page